PRINT October 2004


Destroy All Monsters

Motown, the Detroit-based musical empire built by Berry Gordy in imitation of the local auto works that had once employed him, was a brazen purveyor of (to borrow Theodor Adorno’s dismissive epithet) “commodity music,” pure pop product built from standardized parts, as on an assembly line. This was in the early ’60s, when youth culture as we know it achieved critical mass. Some twenty years later, the midwestern boomtown had given way to the post-Fordist wasteland, where Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, the so-called Belleville Three (after the upscale Detroit suburb they called home), would distill the formula for techno from a dystopic vision of industrialism. As Atkins famously—if perhaps apocryphally—quipped, “Today the automobile plants use robots and computers to make their cars. I’m more interested in Ford’s robots than Gordy’s music.”

The sonic menu of Destroy All

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